Matchboxes. Cardboard boxes that have been stamped all over. A slip box full of quotes. Countless tiny portraits – Alexander Girard was a passionate, almost manic collector. He found inspiration for shapes, concepts and ideas everywhere, whether in modern industrial design or traditional folk art. And the Italian-American architect knew how to turn his inexhaustible treasure trove of reference material into innumerable new and exciting things. Girard turned every project he worked on into an artistic synthesis, where everything was thought through, from coffee cup to plug socket – and these projects were as diverse as the corporate design for an airline or an interior for industrialist J. Irwin Miller. He collaborated with Saul Steinberg and Georgia O’Keeffe, Eero Saarinen and George Nelson. And with Ray and Charles Eames. With the latter he shared an especially close and productive friendship. They swapped ideas about radio design and apartment construction, went on trips together, and Charles Eames even photographed Girard’s interiors. The fact that works by both the long-time Vitra hero and the rediscovered gem are now reunited in “Home Complements” is, of course, anything but a chance encounter.
What’s more, Girard’s entire estate, including his extensive collections, is now housed at Vitra Design Museum, so the path from Weil am Rhein into the architect and designer’s world of images and ideas was not particularly long. It is a cheerful world, at times floral and delicate like the pillow, at others loud and flashy like the colorful things now enhancing “Home Complements”. Further neighbors in Vitra’s Mount Olympus of accessories: Hella Jongerius, Arik Levy, Jasper Morrison, die Bouroullecs and others – but even in this youthful company, Girard never looks old.